TL; DR: Thunkable is a mobile app builder that empowers users to bring their app and site-building ideas to life without even a line of code. The drag-and-drop solution allows both novices and experienced developers to publish their creations to native Android and iOS devices or mobile web apps. With plans for integration with the Figma design tool, Thunkable continues to pioneer the no-code app development space.
No-code app and site-building applications have begun to democratize the development process over the past decade, allowing everyday people to tap into the superpowers of highly trained programmers.
But today, a new class of app and site-builders is emerging that proves that no-code doesn’t have to mean limited functionality. Take the mobile app builder Thunkable, for instance. In addition to making programming accessible to those without coding knowledge, the platform presents a full spectrum of opportunities for developers.
“If Thunkable were a canvas, you’d have a larger color palette to choose from compared with some of the other great platforms on the market, where it’s quick to get started, but you run out of runway quite quickly,” said Domhnall O’Hanlon, Head of Creator Success at Thunkable. “We’re much more open-ended.”
Thunkable’s drag-and-drop programming language is easy to learn yet robust enough to build powerful apps. Another perk: While traditional cross-platform development teams focus on the Android and iOS versions of an app separately, all apps built on Thunkable automatically work for both platforms.
They can be easily uploaded to Google Play and Apple’s App Store or published as web applications. With the last option, users can generate sharable, mobile-friendly hyperlinks for their projects with the click of a button.
Users can start from scratch or turn to Thunkable’s gallery of open-source sample apps and projects for inspiration. Thunkable is also supported by an active creative community where users can test their projects, get tips on best practices, and share ideas.
Pioneering No-Code App Development
Nearly everyone has a smartphone in their hands these days, but few possess the talent to program them. From a business perspective, a lack of software developers means leaders face challenges evolving their technical foundations.
According to the Project Management Institute, 86% of IT decision-makers report that a scarcity of talent creates a significant barrier to digital transformation. Demand for code-free app and site-building platforms is growing as a result: Research suggests that the market for such software platforms will reach 65.15 billion by 2027.
Considering its depth of experience in this growing market, Thunkable is well-positioned to maintain its reputation as a market leader in no-code app building. “We were no-code before no-code was officially a thing,” Domhnall told us.
At the same time, Thunkable’s deep roots in academia now help the company stay one step ahead of the market.
“The reason MIT App Inventor was so popular in education was that you were able to really get into the weeds on the technical side of things,” Domhnall said. “Recently, we’ve added extra layers and abstractions on top.”
Thunkable’s integration with Google Sheets is Domhnall’s favorite and most frequently used component. “You turn a spreadsheet into an app without any kind of logic; any kind of code required whatsoever. It’s brilliant, and it opens us up to a huge, whole new demographic that we didn’t originally appeal to.”
The platform also features low-code capabilities. “When you want to add a little bit of functionality that doesn’t come with a native Google Sheet, you’re able to jump in there and customize it,” Domhnall told us.
Use Cases for Developers and Tech Novices Alike
Thunkable currently boasts an impressive lineup of features, from intuitive, drag-and-drop functionality to easy animations.
But for seasoned developers, Thunkable’s ability to streamline workflows or get apps to market more quickly serves as perhaps its greatest differentiator.
“The big advantage, I think, is being able to prototype your idea in three forms in a matter of hours, rather than a matter of weeks,” Domhnall said. “You could, of course, fire up an integrated development environment and code everything out the old-fashioned way. And nothing wrong with that at all. But what Thunkable allows developers in particular to do is validate their ideas very quickly.”
After publishing their projects as a web application, developers can share a URL with management, potential customers, and other stakeholders to get their feedback or approval. The result is a turbocharged agile development cycle.
Of course, users can also easily share projects with Thunkable’s community of creators.
“I think one of the best value-adds is the community — we have over 1 million members sharing and supporting one another,” Domhnall said. “And everybody has a great story to tell, whether it’s one of our most experienced, most successful developers or one of our beginners. In many cases, people can learn from the mistakes of others.”
On the Horizon: Integration with Figma
Going forward, Thunkable plans to maintain its customer-centric approach to product development. For example, in 2020, the company released a revamped user interface, trading in a grid-like experience for a more fluid one.
“That’s what users asked for, and we spent a lot of time and energy making it happen,” Domhnall said. “And it’s been an enormous success considering the amount of time that it has saved people.”
As for what’s next, the Thunkable team is excited to be working on integration with the design tool Figma.
“You’ll have even more beautiful designs out of the box,” Domhnall said. “You can just import a Figma design, and it comes out the other end as an Android, iPhone, or web app.”